The Mwani of Mozambique
Pray for the Mwani of Mozambique. They are fishermen, living along the coast of Northern Mozambique. Mwani means ‘beach’ and their lives revolve around the shore. They are Folk Muslims, following Islam while also fearing the spirits and believing in magic.
Jesus said “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up a the last day.” John 6:40. Pray that many Mwani would look to the Son and believe!
Location and Background: The Mwani live on a 200 mile long strip of the coast of N. Mozambique; one third of them live in the city of Moçimbao da Praia. Mwani literally means “beach” and life is tied to the ocean. Influenced by sea-faring Arab merchants centuries ago, the culture is defined through fishing and folk Islam.
History: Mwani tradition states that about 1,100 years ago Arab traders came down the east coast of Africa to take slaves. Entire groups became Muslim because the Arabs, being Muslim, were not allowed to take other Muslims as slaves. For this reason, the Mwani became Muslim as well.
Culture: The Mwani value peace and harmony. They value relationships and family bonds and respect the elderly. They fear dying and not getting a proper funeral. Polygamy is common in this matrilineal society. Divorce is common and many women have been married several times, so family units are difficult to discern. Children go to Madrassa schools, and although they memorize and can recite the Koran, they don’t understand its meaning. Most Mwani are illiterate in the Kimwani language and speak only a bit of Portuguese. “Radio Nuru” is a Christian FM radio station in Kimwani.
Religion: They have an awareness of God (Mwenyezimungu) and are very aware of the supernatural world, believing in spirits and magic, and fearing demons. Though fiercely Islamic in name, their worldview is strongly influenced by the animistic world of ancestors and the use of mediums such as witchdoctors. Women are more connected to the spirit world, holding “punge” (séances) which can last all night. Many ceremonies are tied up with protecting the rice harvest from demons. The witchdoctor is paid to protect the boundaries of the rice paddy with beads, bottles, cloths and bones.
Latest Prayer Updates:
Refugee Mama R. is our neighbor. Her 13-year-old daughter was kidnapped by the extremists, along with 10 other girls. She cries often because she knows she will never see her daughter again. Pray for God’s mercy upon many suffering families in Northern Mozambique.
Our Mwani friend A gave his life to Jesus and since then his family despises him. In Mwani culture, your identity is defined by the community you are a part of so if your family rejects you, the whole community rejects you and with that benefits like food, work, housing etc. stop. Pray for A and many Mwani like him who struggle with identity and acceptance after deciding to follow Christ.
Journey to the northern coast of Mozambique. Learn what it means to be a Mwani.